All the Same The Words Don't Go Away: Essays on Authors, Heroes, Aesthetics, and Stage Adaptations from the Russian Tradition

All the Same The Words Don't Go Away: Essays on Authors, Heroes, Aesthetics, and Stage Adaptations from the Russian Tradition

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Caryl Emerson

Series: Studies in Russian and Slavic Literatures, Cultures and HistoryArs Rossica
ISBN: 9781934843819 (hardcover)
Pages: 450 pp.
Publication Date: November 2010

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Twenty-five years of essays and reviews, linked loosely by three themes. First is the creative potential inherent in transposing classic literary texts into other genres of media (operatic, dramatic) and the responsibilities, if any, that govern the transposer, audience, and critic. The practice of transposition, however, gives rise to a creative conflict: is there a limit to the amount of ornamentation, pressure, or dilution to which the “mediated” word can be subject? Finally, the more polemical of the essays included here are structured on the Bakhtinian notion of co-existing “plausibilities” and points of view. What a carnival approach can uncover in Pushkin that might have surprised and even pleased the poet, what a libretto or play script brings out that the “true original” hides: here the work of the creator and the critic can overlap in thrilling ways that respect the competencies of each. The book includes an original preface written by David Bethea.


Caryl Emerson is A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University, with a co-appointment in Comparative Literature. Research interests include Mikhail Bakhtin, 19th-century Russian classics (Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky), Russian opera and vocal music (especially Musorgsky), and the Russian critical tradition. Her most recent book was The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature (2008).


If ever there was a writer whose words should never be allowed to go away, it is Caryl Emerson, our most precious musicoliterary bridge builder. Having these words collected is like having a party with all your best friends.
— Richard Taruskin, University of California at Berkeley
This collection illustrates both the astonishing breadth of Caryl Emerson’s interests, and also her ability to return again and again to the same texts from different perspectives. There is no one writing today in the field of Russian culture more sensitive to its various voices than Emerson. She has an unparalleled ability to listen to her authors—literary, musical, scholarly, and theoretical—and report what they are up to.
— Donna Orwin, University of Toronto
For many years Caryl Emerson has been recognized as America’s best—most versatile, profound, and energetic— scholar of Russian literary and musical culture. Her contributions to our understanding of Russian masterpieces have ranged from utterly accurate translations, to scrupulously fair reviews, to performances, to provocative essays, to rigorously researched and argued volumes. This volume, which should be read cover-to-cover, captures this exceptional range with sections on major Russian thinkers, writers and performers. I can imagine no better guide to Russian culture than these unfailingly fresh, insightful, and engaging essays.
— William Mills Todd III, Harvard University
This collection provides engaging material for those interested in Bakhtinian theory, 19th-century literature, or the musical stage. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
— B. M. Sutcliffe, Miami University, in Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 2011
Carly Emerson’s new volume is an extremely valuable retrospective of the rich career of a distinguished scholar. . . . The title of the book clearly suggests the main idea of the volume: “Words do not go away.” One can add that ideas do not go away, either. As soon as they find their place on paper and leave their author for the vast and open world of readership, they stop their monologic existence and become a part of a dialogue that never ceases. By composing and publishing this collection Academic Studies Press allows a new generation of readers, students, and established scholars to engage in this endless dialogue with a new energy and new interest, and to prove that great ideas are always alive.
— Marina Aptekman, Hobart and William Smith Colleges